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May was a busy month of promotions for region's beef producers

North Dakota and South Dakota beef industry officials used May beef month to put their products front and center for consumers.

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The South Dakota Beef Industry Council spent May promoting beef to consumers at a variety of events. (Michelle Rook / Agweek)

Cattle production has a huge impact on communities throughout the region and that was highlighted during National Beef Month.

South Dakota Beef Industry Council President Laurie Johnson said South Dakota alone is home to more than 4 million head of cattle .

“We have 4.5 cows per person, so I think that’s pretty incredible, and I think huge kudos to the 14,000 beef farmers and ranchers that we have in South Dakota," she said. "It’s an exciting time to celebrate them and what they do every day you know making that protein possible to be on your plate.”

Johnson said SDBIC launched a host of promotions and activities this month, including their “Reclaim the Summer” campaign which encourages everyone to get out and celebrate summers by choosing beef this grilling season. Summer continues to be the peak season for beef sales.

“Most of the beef I believe like over 30% of the dollars are sold between Labor Day and Memorial Day,” she said.

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Beef has also been highlighted at several events across South Dakota throughout the month, including Deadwood Xtreme Bulls and the Sioux Falls Storm’s opening Hall of Fame Game on May 15. The SDBIC teamed up with the Storm and used beef to create some pre-game excitement.

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A large portion of beef is sold during the summer months, which makes May a good month for the beef industry to highlight their products. (Michelle Rook / Agweek)

“Tailgating. How do you not tailgate without having beef, right?” said Jason Headlee, Sioux Falls Storm co-owner.

He said the goal is to improve the experience for the Sioux Falls Storm fans.

“It worked out great with tailgating and with South Dakota beef to have them involved to help create that excitement and that fun and educate people on the importance of beef,” Headlee said.

The tailgating included a food truck challenge featuring beef entrees. The winner was Fat Kid Fillys, owned and operated by Cody Sauers. He partners with Boss Beef of DeSmet to offer smoked beef short ribs, quarter pound burgers and for the competition he made one of his specialties.

“I did my original fat kid which is a slow smoked 10-hour wagu beef roast that we chop and pull by hand, sautéed in salted sweet cream butter, with peppers, onions, provolone cheese and then we do a cheddar cheese sauce on top all in a toasted bun," he said.

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A May Sioux Falls Storm game featured a food truck challenge, with vendors using beef in the competition. (Michelle Rook / Agweek)

The afternoon also featured the Grid Iron Burger Battle between teams of celebrities and coaches from universities that are utilizing the Build Your Base with Beef program . Each team had 30 minutes to produce an award-winning burger from a bag of random ingredients that all had to be incorporated into the burger, and they could use one secret ingredient. Clete McLeod, University of South Dakota Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, said he has strong criteria for what makes a good burger.

“I want a juicy burger, I want to be able to produce something that lets the beef speak for itself,” he said.

The judges had a tough job but say no matter what ingredients are used a good burger needs to be cooked properly. Willie Bertsch, with BBQ Heaven in Sioux Falls served as one of the judges. He said he’s a top notch burger griller, so he is very particular about the burger is cooked.

“Well personally I want a medium hamburger, not medium rare. You need to cook your beef to 160," he said. "Too dry of a hamburger is not good.”

The winners were Matthew Bacoulis, Augustana offensive line coach, and Chelsie Bakken, Mrs. South Dakota International. They made their version of a poor man’s Hawaiian burger featuring their secret ingredient.

“Our secret to victory was our dumpling sauce, yes a soy Asian dumpling sauce, and it worked really well with the ingredients we received to use,” Bakken said.

Bacoulis gave credit to the state’s cattle producers and the high-quality beef they produce.

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“It starts with a great product and South Dakota beef first and foremost and then looking at accentuating that beef not overdoing it too much and then finding a nice internal temp,” he said.

The Junior Beef Ambassadors worked within their local communities promoting beef. The SDBIC wrapped up the month with sponsorship of the Prairie Fire Steak Contest to be held at the Red Rock Bar and Grill in Brandon, S.D., on Sunday, May 30.

The North Dakota Beef Commission is also partnering with the Bismarck Larks and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to promote beef at the ballpark. Both minor league baseball teams will highlight beef during their upcoming seasons. The Bismarck Larks are holding United We Steak Saturdays, where fans can grill their favorite beef item and send a picture via social media. The games will also feature the Beefed-Up Home Run Derby. This event will be held prior to the games and six people will be selected to compete against Larks players in a home run derby competition.

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks will have a Beef Batter of the Game at each home game. If that batter gets a hit, a section of the ballpark will win Beef Battle Bucks. They can be used to bonus beef products with the purchase of beef at Prime Cut Meats in Fargo.

“We want to capitalize on the summer grilling season and the ability to gather again this summer, whether at the ballpark or in the backyard,” said NDBC Executive Director Nancy Jo Bateman. “Beef products are the top grilling items nationwide and we want to help create demand for beef in North Dakota through these ballpark promotions.”

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